Special Correspondent

ICMR experts have warned of such a possibility, says Sreemathy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Experts of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) have warned about the possibility of various viral fever varieties, including chikungunya, spreading to the northern parts of the State, Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy told the Assembly on Wednesday.

Replying to a submission by Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, the Health Minister said the Government had decided to set up a Vector Borne Disease Control Cell in the State under the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme to fight the menace.

The ICMR warned that the virus load in Kerala was alarmingly high. The Health Department had taken this warning seriously. Since fevers such as chikungunya were spread by vectors, it had been decided to develop a focussed strategy to tackle the situation, she explained.

Earlier, Mr. Chandy pointed out that though the incidence of chikungunya and other fever varieties had come down, the situation was still very serious in the State. Those who had contracted the disease were still suffering. The financial assistance promised by the Government had reached only few families of those who had succumbed to the disease.

Insufficient kits

Although a large number of people received free ration, the quantity made available was insufficient to meet the full demand. The health kit distributed by the Health Department also did not reach all the needy.

The Government should immediately implement the much-awaited health insurance scheme for the poor, the Opposition leader said.

The Health Minister said the State Government sanctioned Rs.8 crore and also utilised assistance received from the Centre to provide relief to the people affected by chikungunya. It distributed 3.13 lakh food packets and provided free ration to 3.52 lakh families. It had given Rs.25,000 each to the next of kin of 327 persons who died due to chikungunya.

Instructions had been issued to health officials at all levels to prevent fresh outbreak of the disease anywhere in the State, Ms. Sreemathy said.